Getting Ready for Vacation

Well, we made it through our big band performance this weekend – my husband and daughter and I play in a band that had it’s first performance on Sunday since last August and we didn’t suck!

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Even with all the nerves and worry, I still managed to drop a pound over the weekend and now I’m 3/10 lbs away from 60 lbs lost.  I’m hoping to hit that goal before we head out for vacation , but even if I don’t, I’m planning on enjoying myself.  I’m not planning on going crazy, but I plan to do lots of walking on this trip, so hopefully it will balance out the extra carbs.

Since we played on Sunday, I had to do split my cooking this weekend, so on Saturday I made the Tex Mex Casserole, and a batch of homemade Almond Joys which turned out very well.  On Sunday we put a pork shoulder in the smoker all day so we’d have pulled pork to eat the rest of the week.

This week I’ll mostly be shopping, packing and otherwise getting everything ready for our trip.  I’ll probably take a hiatus from blogging while we’re out and fill you all in on our adventures when we get back!

Balsamic Pot Roast

A few weeks ago, you saw my first attempt at a slow cooker pot roast, and yesterday was my 2nd try.  This time I tried the Balsamic Pot Roast recipe from Civilized Caveman Cooking and was very pleased with the results.  Because of my schedule, crock pot recipes tend to need to run a little longer than intended – mine went for close to 11 hours instead of the recommended 6-8, but the roast was very tender and had a nice flavor – not as sweet or vinegary as I had imagined it would, but rather a smooth, mild, pleasant tomato-y flavor.

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I paired it with a mushroom and asparagus saute with halved cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic salt, onion powder, and the remainder of the goat cheese I had from the previous night’s meal.

E.J. gave this one 2 thumbs-up, so we can add it to our rotation of slow cooker options.

Seared Scallops with Shrimp & Zucchini

I learned something new about E.J. recently after nearly 13 years of marriage: he really likes scallops.  I never knew this about him, probably because they’re kind of expensive, so I typically don’t buy them or plan meals around scallops even though I really like them too.  We were having dinner with friends a few weeks ago, and our hosts served us scallops, and E.J. was so surprisingly enthusiastic that I knew I wanted to incorporate them into our meal planning.

This past weekend, we also picked up some fresh goat cheese with basil and rosemary from a local vendor at the Wine and Art festival, so I went looking for a recipe that would incorporate these 2 items.  I ended up going with this Seared Sea Scallops over Zucchini Ribbons with Goat Cheese recipe, but I added about a pound of shrimp to just extend the volume of food.

We were really pleased with the results, and the sauce that came from the butter, lemon, wine, and goat cheese was delicious.  We will definitely make this one again!

Purple Dress Progress Pics

I first started trying on dresses when I hit size 16W back in October because I was so excited about being a size smaller.  Dresses never looked very good on me, and I was excited that I actually had a waist that was starting to curve in the right direction.

Purple also happens to be one of my favorite colors, so when I saw the dress in my size, I had to try it on.  Fast forward a few months, and I’ve tried on a lot of purple dresses.  This shows dresses at 16, 14 and the last one is me today in a size 10.  I lost the size 12 photo to a phone fiasco that involves a washing machine… don’t ask.  But needless to say, the I’ve been using the purple dresses as a yard stick for my weight loss since we started last September and I love seeing the difference my efforts are making.

I’m about 9 lbs from my original goal.  I think when I get there, I’ll have to actually buy a purple dress after I try it on and take that last photo.

 

Honey Chipotle Meatballs

Last night was a bit challenging in the dinner department.  E.J. didn’t get enough to eat in his lunch, so he came home starving and hurdling toward hangry.   I knew I needed to come up with something something fairly hearty in a hurry, though those 2 things don’t really jibe, so I ended up going with these Honey Chipotle Meatballs from The Paleo Cupboard Cookbook.

All I can say, is Wow!   The meatballs were simple to throw together, fry up and bake, and the sauce was amazing.  I served them on a bed of thinly sliced sweet potatoes sauteed in butter with garlic salt and onion powder, and OMG it was fantastic.  Our son Brendon came home later in the evening looking for leftovers, and he gave them rave reviews also.

I’ll be adding this one to the Favorite Recipes section, for sure!

Weekend Projects

This weekend was a very busy one.  On Friday, we met up with friends for dinner at Alicia’s, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants and had their Steak Chipotle with grilled onions and guacamole (instead of rice and beans) and as always, it was fantastic.  But before we went out for dinner, I had some time to kill and about 6 egg yolks in the fridge left over from the “tortillas” we made for the shrimp tacos.  What better way to use up egg yolks than to make ice cream??

IMG_1409So off I went to my vast archives of saved recipes I’d like to try and ended up landing on this Paleo Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream from Paleo Leap.  It was actually fairly easy to put together since I also had some leftover coconut milk in the fridge, and with 6 eggs, I needed to make a recipe and a half to use up my eggs.  I used the Tahitian vanilla beans that E.J. gets in bulk to make our homemade vanilla extract every few years, honey to sweeten it, and added some dairy free chocolate chips at the very end of the churn in my ice cream maker.  The result was smooth and tasty – albeit with a little bit of a coconut overtone which is a little strange at first but is much better after the 2nd or 3rd bite.

On Saturday, we went to the Texas Wine and Art Festival in Old Town Spring, where I found some wonderful flavors from Texas wineries I haven’t visited yet, and then E.J. and I went up to the mall to take our wedding rings to be resized.  We’ve been waiting to get closer to our goal weights to make sure we have them sized correctly, and I’m pretty sure my fingers are as small as they’re going to be – it’s the knuckle that’s the biggest part now.  After some additional shopping and walking around, we ended the evening at Peli Peli for some fantastic South African cuisine, and as always it was delicious.

For Sunday Cookday, we had friends over for some friendly tabletop games, so I knew I wouldn’t have much time to spend in the kitchen on meals for the week.  To make it easy, we quartered two whole chickens, sprinkled the pieces with Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming spice blend, and popped them in the smoker with pecan wood for 4 hours.   I think I’ve decided smoking is the absolute best cooking method for chicken because you get a nice crispy and flavorful skin with a juicy and tender inside that’s not even close to being dry.  Yum!  I’ve got one of the leg quarters packed for lunch today.

IMG_1402.JPGI also made another recipe that we tried back in the early days of our Paleo journey for a spicy twist on meatloaf.  This Bacon Chorizo Chipotle Smothered Meatloaf from PaleOMG is simple, really tasty, and fantastic for packed lunches, so I made 2 loaves of it, some roasted cabbage (leftover from the shrimp tacos) and some roasted sweet potato bites, and voila, packed lunches for the week with minimal prep and cleanup.

E.J. and I have both had a lot of small victories with the weightloss lately – I’m now down into size 10’s (I started in 18W in September last year) and E.J.’s 36 pants are starting to get loose.  We’ve got vacation coming up in 2 weeks, so we hope we don’t slide out of our pattern too much, but if everything goes well, we should both be hitting our weight goals sometime in the summer months.  I never would have believed we could do it, but here we are.  Looking good and feeling great!

Shrimp Taco Tuesday

unnamed (2)When E.J. was in the Marines, he was stationed out in California for a number of years, and has a soft spot for Baja cuisine.  On our very first trip together, he took me out to SoCal and introduced me to fish tacos (which seemed like a very strange concept at the time).  After tasting Rubio’s, I was hooked, and fortunately a few places around Houston have started serving fish & shrimp tacos in the last 10 years.

For last night’s meal, I found inspiration from this Shrimp Taco Recipe from Paleo Grubs.  I used almond flour instead of coconut flour in the tortilla but otherwise followed the tortilla instructions exactly. The tortilla’s came out pliable but sturdy – at least as good as the standard corn tortillas that typically are served.

For the shrimp, I simply melted a tablespoon of butter in a skillet (you can use ghee if preferred), added the shrimp and then about 2 tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp onion salt, 1 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp ancho chili powder.  Mix and cook until shrimp are pink.

The cauliflower had a similar spice treatment, first I drizzled roasted garlic olive oil over the florets, then tossed them in about 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ancho chili powder, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Then oven roast in a pan (or lined cookie sheet) for about 25 mins.

Finally, because the real thing always has a good baja sauce, I threw together a paleo version that went something like this:

  • 1/3 cup paleo mayo 
  • 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder

Whisk everything together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

IMG_1538For taco toppings we had limes (for drizzling over the shrimp), shredded cabbage, finely diced onions, cilantro, avocado slices, and the baja sauce.

Yum!

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